There’s nothing quite the same as experiencing that eureka moment when you decided your idea was more than just a pipedream and it’s time you did something about it.
Telling your friends and family, brainstorming until you run out of Post-it notes, designing a great business model… these are the first steps towards becoming your own boss, and it feels great.
That’s when the stress kicks in.
The majority of entrepreneurs I meet rely on bootstrap finance to kick themselves off, but there comes a time when you really need to think about how you plan on ensuring your business has some steady cash flow to implement the necessary next steps.
I’ve written a lot about alternative finance and the different routes available for startups today.
For an investor, willingness to give away a lump sum of cash to a startup who has limited past experience and a very fragmented idea of their financials and future profits is intimidating due to the amount of risk attached to that deal.
Consequently, investors are very cautious and will ask questions and perform as many checks necessary to inspire enough confidence in your business model to justify their signature on the dotted line.
It’s hard for startups not to bite the hand off any investor offering much needed capital to facilitate growth. However, this is where a lot of entrepreneurs go wrong.
This being common knowledge, it’s hard for startups not to bite the hand off any investor offering much-needed capital to facilitate growth.
However, this is where a lot of entrepreneurs go wrong.
Due diligence doesn’t just work one way; you need to have enough assurance in your idea, your team and your pitch to make an investment deal work for you.
When you’re pitching, think about your hook – tell a story and get them excited, don’t just bog them down with figures that may or not come to fruition. Illustrate your passion and remember that, as a startup, all good investors will expect you to fail at first, so never overpromise and under deliver.
It’s important to demonstrate how your investor can realise their investment by outlining a prospective exit strategy.
Whilst it’s very important to talk about numbers, scale, growth and margin, don’t leave out how you plan to execute your strategy.
Ideas in themselves don’t make money. It’s excellent execution that delivers results.
Appointing an investor to your board is like a marriage, you need to work with them day to day.
As an entrepreneur, you need to know what kind of investor you’re looking for. It’s not just about finding a person with deep pockets to keep financing your company; it’s about finding someone who believes in your product almost as much as you do.
Appointing an investor to your board is like a marriage, you need to work with them day to day. Whoever you chose is likely to be on the board for years, therefore, you need to consistently work on the relationship, which will take time to nurture.
It should also be a pre-requisite that your potential investor has experience scaling and selling a business in the same industry as you.
Remember that the best thing about angels, other than their money, are the contacts they’ve managed to curate over years of experience. The doors that could be opened by appointing an angel investor absolutely have the potential to transform your business.
By sitting on your board, the investor will play an essential role in discussing and setting the strategic direction of your business. By pulling you away from the day-to-day to focus on the strategic issue of what maximises value creation they will hone your strategic thinking and steer the direction of the business.
This is exactly why working with the wrong investor could be a major deterrent for your business.
If you’re in the phase of pitching for investment, be sure to ask every relevant question you can think of can and learn as much as you can about them and their experience, before you make a decision.
If they’re a right fit, this could be the first step towards success, not only in this round of finance but future rounds (depending on your relationship management).
On the contrary, if they’re not right, don’t be afraid to walk away, otherwise, you’ll end up with a pile of legal fees trying to get out of a sticky situation.
Create Better Business Environment And Experience For Employees With AI And A Mentor
There is no controversy in the fact that AI or Artificial Intelligence creates a better user experience in all aspects. Whether it is in the medical field or real estate business, automobile manufacturing, or any other, the use and dominance of AI in all sectors are hard to ignore.
While for any type of business focusing on the customer experience aspect plays a crucial role, so does the employee benefits and experience.
Both are the backbone of a business playing a significant role in its success. If you neglect any of these aspects, it will inevitably affect the bottom line of your business directly and severely.
Now you may tend to think what really does AI have to do in employee experience. Well, Artificial intelligence or AI has become an essential thing in almost every aspect of modern lives, and it has become so in the most unnoticeable way.
You will see extensive use of AI in:
- Home appliances
- Mobile phones
- Modern cars and
- TVs and a lot of other products.
People of today have really become accustomed to this technology in a comparatively short period of time. The inclusion of AI in different things that you use today has made your life easier, and it guides you through your individual journeys.
Most of the people interact with it every day, and several businesses today use AI for several other reasons, including:
- Streamlining their work processes
- Helping the customers to self-serve
- Reducing the costs and much more.
According to a recent study conducted by Forrester Consulting, it is found that nearly 58% of customer engagement decision-makers of the world have made customer experience or CX the top priority for any organization.
This they have done by implementing a more holistic AI strategy. This strategy has helped the businesses to renovate the customer journey and enjoy significant benefits as a result. According to the same report by Forrester Consulting, more than 63% of the businesses that use AI technology for CX have witnessed a significant increase in their Net Promoter Score or NPS. This is all due to their enhanced and AI-based customer engagement strategies.
Change in the workforce
Just like CX, AI an also help you to transform the employee experience. The modern workforce has changed significantly from that of the past years. Moreover, there is a change in the workplace as well, where now remote offices, work from home, and even roaming are the norm. Add to that the ways of working have also changed dramatically.
Therefore, with such changes, all employees, including those who are not born as a digital native, have definite expectations as to how technology will work for them.
They are now also more focused on well-designed, affordable, and easy to use apps with a hope that it will make their tasks much easier. This will, in turn, enable them to be more productive.
However, even though there is a large number of consumer applications out there, several companies fail to deliver a more user-friendly business system. Well, AI is here to help them out. This will help them in different aspects, such as:
- Keeping their employees happy who in turn will bring in more satisfied customers
- Reimagining and reinventing the workplace of the future and
- Removing the pain points of the employees.
It will now help them to create a modern and more streamlined experience for their employees across all departments and for all roles throughout the organization. This will ensure that the employees put in their best efforts, always and every time. This will result in higher production, more employee satisfaction, and business profit on the whole.
The principle is much similar to the one that you employ in your business marketing strategy to integrate Instagram and other social channels to deliver your users what they exactly want and get more automatic IG likes and organic traffic to your site.
Engage a coach or a mentor
In addition to AI technology playing its role, you may also engage a coach or a mentor to help you to boost the morale of your employees. However, whether you will need a mentor, coach, or advisor will depend on your specific needs. Yes, there is a difference between an advisor, a mentor, and a business coach, with each having a different value to add.
- A business coach is the one who suggests business strategies and monitors the performance, just like a basketball or any other coach do, standing on the sideline. They also keep an eye on what your competitors may be doing or thinking of and suggest counter strategies and techniques. The business coach will not work in your business but will meet you as well as your employees on a regular basis. They are there to change, improve, and correct different aspects of your business. They are more focused on the end goal and suggest accurate and productive strategies accordingly.
- A mentor, on the other hand, plays more of a parental role. They have a wealth of experience in real-life situations and know a lot about business and the ways to grow a business. They have done all these personally. They know that running a business is a long-term and continual effort and will, therefore, be more interested in your personal development. Ideally, the role of the mentor is to transfer skills, sharing of knowledge, and contacts part from their experience. They can be contacted regularly or irregular, and the discussions may be in-depth or in pointers, long or concise.
- An adviser is actually a technical specialist, more like a sharp-shooter. With their in-depth knowledge of a particular subject, they will provide the most accurate and practical solutions. They can give such suggestions on any pressing issue. Their relationship with you is more casual as compared to a business coach or a mentor. It is like, you ask questions and they answer. They listen to a bit and talk a lot to solve a problem quickly.
Therefore, consider the circumstances and hire the best person and use the best technology to have a happy and satisfied set of employees to ensure business success.
7 Reasons Why Its Important to Have a Niche
A niche is a focused, targetable segment of the market. You are a specialist providing a product or service that focuses on the specific needs of an identified client group, which cannot or are not being addressed in such detail by the dominant providers in your industry.
But it is important to understand that there is, in fact, a difference between your identified niche and your target market.
Your target market is a specific identifiable group of people you work with, e.g. women in the city, technology start-ups, creative agency owners, small and medium businesses in a particular revenue range.
Your niche is the service you specialise in offering to your target market.
Here are 7 reasons why it is important to have a niche:
To avoid spreading yourself too thin
Instead of the risk of spreading yourself too thin in saying that ‘everyone’ is your potential client, niche marketing will help you to focus on a specific grouping of people, and particularly on what their needs and wants are.
You will unlikely to be able to serve everybody, so it is important to focus on what you do best and aim it at a specific group of people who will likely buy what you offer.
It is important to find out what is important to them, what blogs they read, their beliefs and attitudes, who the main influencers in that network are.
Having these insights means that you can develop products or services specifically aimed at this group, based on your thorough knowledge and understanding of what they are interested in.
It’s easier to identify and target potential clients and partners to work with
As the pool of people that exists for a niche is smaller than its mainstream equivalent, it will be easier to identify potential clients and partners to work with, as you can be much more targeted and laser-focused with your marketing efforts.
It’s easier to become an expert and well known in your niche
Niching means it will be much easier for others to understand ‘what you do’ and ‘for whom’, which will make it easier to position you as an expert in your field. As this group is more targeted and of a smaller size, you can rapidly become well known within this group of people.
Your profile and overall visibility will increase within this group. It is a small world after all!
More and better referrals
Since it will be easier for others to understand what you do and for whom, it, in turn, becomes much easier for them to refer more and better quality clients to you that fit the profile of your ideal client, as you have built up trust, credibility, visibility, and it is very clear as to what your specialism is.
The more unique you are, the less competition you will have
There will be less competition, as you will provide the specific services or create the specific products for the specific people you are seeking to help in a specific way that meets their needs. The BIG advantage of becoming more unique is that usually it can’t be easily replicated by your competition!
Marketing becomes much easier
Effective niche marketing should really help with your marketing, positioning and branding as you will attract the ‘right people’ much more easily and quickly. People with similar interests tend to behave and are attracted to similar things. This means that many of your clients will do all the hard work for you as they will refer you more and more because your profile, credibility and influence are readily apparent within your tribe.
More repeat business
As you are able to provide an increasingly better service or product, based on your specific client’s needs, it is likely that you will get more repeat business – people will come back for more, and as an added benefit will often start spending more with you as your relationship grows with them.
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